San Jose is a picturesque Northern California metropolis and a key Silicon Valley tech center.
Along with a booming modern tech and science industry, San Jose also offers a historic downtown district with glamorous Spanish colonial-style buildings.
A large financial and tech sector makes for a sophisticated white-collar cultural scene.
San Jose’s bar scene offers a wide array of hip wine bars, pubs, and lounges to enjoy craft cocktails and beers with friends.
I’ve compiled a list of the best bars in San Jose for you to explore below.
43 W San Salvador St, San Jose, CA 95113Phone: (408) 792-7356Visit Website
Located across from the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in Downtown San Jose, Haberdasher is an elegant cocktail bar in a classy urban space with concrete floors, modern light fixtures, and vintage burgundy wallpaper.
The craft cocktail list is as classy as the atmosphere, with a minimalist and modern presentation that’s certainly Instagram-worthy!
169 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113Phone: (408) 982-5816Visit Website
Five Points is a cocktail bar and eatery with a glamorous gangster vibe in San Pedro Square, modeled after the iconic Five Points neighborhood in New York.
They offer a creative cocktail menu, whiskey flights, and a decadent dinner menu of refined bar fare. I thought their cocktails were interesting and well-executed.
I had the Southern Star with Oaxacan rum, house-made tejuino, and tamarind.
55 – Fifty Five South
55 S First St, San Jose, CA 95113Phone: (408) 288-6000Visit Website
Another San Pedro Square haunt, The 55 South, is a craft cocktail lounge with a casual and bustling atmosphere and a great outdoor patio.
They have one of the most extensive whiskey selections in the Bay area, along with a wonderful menu of regional comfort food favorites, from lobster rolls to baked mac n cheese.
I would take my whiskey-loving friends to 55 South for a whiskey flight.
72 S First St, San Jose, CA 95113Phone: (408) 713-2625Visit Website
Paper Plane is a high-end craft cocktail bar and eatery in a cozy yet lively space in downtown San Jose.
Paper Plane has a casual counter-service format where you order food and drink at the bar, and your server brings it to your table when you’re ready.
The food is world-class, with menu items like bone marrow with fennel pollen crumpets and Quail scotch eggs. The cocktails are a complex and artsy mix of flavors and textures.
ISO Beers Beer Bar & Bottle Shop
75 E Santa Clara St #120, San Jose, CA 95113Phone: (408) 298-2337Visit Website
ISO Beers is a casual Downtown San Jose beer bar with an urban design and tree-covered outdoor seating.
They have around 25 local beers, seltzers, and ciders on tap.
If you’re looking to explore local brew culture, ISO Beers has a knowledgeable staff that will guide you to your favorite pint.
San Pedro Square Market Bar
87 N San Pedro St, San Jose, CA 95110Phone: (408) 849-4716Visit Website
San Pedro Square Market Bar is one of many locales inside a historic Colonial Spanish adobe plaza that’s been converted into a food hall and market called San Pedro Square Market.
They offer a well-rounded menu of classic and innovative cocktails, California wines, and artisanal beers.
I went for a classic vodka martini to celebrate the end of a workweek.
265 N First St, San Jose, CA 95113Phone: (408) 947-0497Visit Website
Trials Pub is an authentic British pub in a historic landmark building in the downtown Hensley Historic District, a block from St. James Park.
It’s a favorite amongst locals, voted the best pub by Metro Silicon Valley.
Trials Pub offers a tap list of 14 ales from around Europe and the US, along with imported European bottles and a list of whiskeys and scotches.
If ever there were a place to get a pint of Guinness and fish and chips, Trials Pub is it.
The Caravan Lounge
98 Almaden Ave, San Jose, CA 95113Phone: (408) 995-6220Visit Website
The Caravan Lounge is a rowdy, no-frills dive bar in Downtown San Jose with a pool table, jukebox, and Christmas lights decorating the bare-bones space year-round.
For drinkers on a budget, The Caravan Lounge is the best bang for your buck.
They have free shows multiple days a week, from music to stand-up comedy.
O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub
25 N San Pedro St, San Jose, CA 95110Phone: (408) 947-8007Visit Website
Located in San Pedro Square, O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub is a classic, old-school Irish pub in a cozy old-world space with imported Irish furniture and memorabilia.
The founders themselves are from Ireland and strive to offer the most authentic atmosphere and menu to locals.
I recommend going for happy hour to enjoy cheap Irish fries and a seven-dollar pour of Jameson.
Cielo Wine Bar
3055 Olin Ave #2100, San Jose, CA 95128Phone: (408) 551-0010Visit Website
Meaning “sky” in Spanish, Cielo Wine Bar is a charming rooftop wine bar atop the Santana Row shopping mall.
Its gorgeous lounge space looks like a Mediterranean villa patio with stunning views of the surrounding Santa Cruz Mountains.
They offer a nice list of California wines, beer, and New American meals.
78 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113Phone: (408) 288-5252Visit Website
Cash Only is California’s take on a country saloon. Located in the heart of San Pedro Square, Cash Only self-proclaims to be a West Coast Honkytonk.
They serve an extensive list of beers from domestic and independent breweries, along with a menu of spirits to drink as shots or boilermakers.
I went with a classic saloon Boilermaker called Full Busch with Bushmills Irish whiskey and a bottle of Busch beer.
52 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113Phone: (408) 520-4909Visit Website
MINIBOSS is a hip bar, and arcade in Downtown San Jose steps away from the Santa Clara metro stop.
They offer 32 arcade games, 12 pinball machines, and a fun menu of seasonal cocktails, beer, and pub food.
I went during the spooky season and got the Exorcist, a puke-green mezcal and rum cocktail with poblano liqueur, cream de Menthe, pea, lime, and celery bitters.
The Continental Bar Lounge & Patio
349 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113Phone: (408) 982-3461Visit Website
The Continental Bar Lounge and Patio is a hip event venue and bar in a large warehouse space inside an early 20th-century building in the Historic SOFA district of downtown San Jose.
They have multiple giant flat-screen TVs and a full lineup of DJs and live music events.
They have a well-rounded menu of craft cocktails and beer to pair with a lively and social atmosphere.
1 E San Fernando St, San Jose, CA 95113Visit Website
Rec Room is a family-friendly restaurant with a lively after-hours bar and party scene.
Located in Downtown San Jose, Rec Room has a local craft brew list, an extensive spirit and cocktail menu, and a full menu of California-style Mexican food.
I had a delicious Michelada with some fish tacos to fuel a long night of dancing to a great DJ set.
San Jose’s bar scene centers around its downtown area districts, with everything from elegant cocktail lounges to rowdy dive bars.
It’s easy to bar hop between many spots on my list of best bars in San Jose.
After trying some of my favorite bars, I’d love to hear what you think of my list in the comments below.